“Met the ghost of Stephen Foster at the Hotel Paradise
This is what I told him as I gazed into his eyes:
Rooms were made for carpets,
Towers made for spires,
Ships were made for cannonades to fire off from inside them ..." (Squirrel Nut Zippers, 2002)
Findings of a recent study published in Cognition state that:
- "... college-educated adults display scientifically unwarranted teleological explanations with ease. Such findings highlight the challenges faced by educators in both the life and physical sciences. The source of popular resistance to scientific ideas appears to run deep" (Kelemen & Rosset, 2009: 143).
According to Heads, Darwin's move away from teleological argumentation was rejected by neodarwinists who preferred purpose over structure:
- "... as his knowledge of biology and laws of growth deepened, Darwin learned to avoid teleology. Through this process he left his background behind and evolved into a modern (Renaissance) scientist. Nevertheless, Darwin's later work has been ignored whereas his earlier arguments have been co-opted as support for teleology, panselectionism and centre of originism." (Heads, 2009: Online)
Heads provides several excellent examples of natural teleology in systematic biology:
- "... many features of organisms are teleological, a bird's wings are for flying; eyes are for seeing ..." (Ayala, 2004:65).
- "A rock may not have a purpose but an eye does. Eyes and hands do not just happen for no reason" (Ruse, 2003:33).
- "... a vitally important tool for looking into the organic world" (Ruse, 2002: 47).
- "[Mayr] recognized that the teleology in biology was a serious problem. His solution was to suggest that the modern synthesis is not really teleological, and that it uses teleological language but not teleological thinking" (Heads, 2009: Online).
Malte C. Ebach
Ayala, F.J. (2004) Design without designer: Darwin's greatest discovery. Debating design: from Darwin to DNA (ed. by W.A. Dembski and M. Ruse), pp. 55–80. Cambridge University Press, New York.
Heads, M. (2009). Darwin’s changing views on evolution: from centres of origin and teleology to vicariance and incomplete lineage sorting Journal of Biogeography DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2699.2009.02127.x
Kelemen, D., & Rosset, E. (2009). The Human Function Compunction: Teleological explanation in adults Cognition, 111 (1), 138-143 DOI: 10.1016/j.cognition.2009.01.001
Ruse, M. (2002) Evolutionary biology and teleological thinking. Functions: new essays in the philosophy of psychology and biology (ed. by A. Ariew, R. Cummins and M. Perlman), pp. 33–62. Oxford University Press, New York.